Bob Tasca is used to being a leader. He's a leader in business, and that's what he wants to be in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Ford Mustang Funny Car. And it's gnawing at him that he isn't in the Countdown and that in five of the previous six races he has lost in the first round. But he's still a leader, for leaders take responsibility, give credit where it's due, and know how to turn disappointment into a learning experience and, ultimately, success.
"To perform is everything to us," he said. "When you don't perform, you just didn't get the job done. All you can do is get up off the mat time and time again. The champions have all been on the mat, and they have risen again. And that's what we'll do, too.
"We went into Indy 10th in points with two hungry teams behind us. One of them was our Ford Shelby teammate, Tim Wilkerson, and his Levi, Ray and Shoup team. As luck would have it, when the race was rained out and NHRA added two qualifying sessions, we drew Tim first round. Only one of us was going to make it into the Countdown to the Championship, and Tim got the job done.
"When you're up against a teammate like that, it's tough. As much as you want the best for them, you still want your team to be the team that makes it happen. We're a determined team, though, and we're going out to the next few races to win some races," Tasca said. "I can tell you this: through the tough times you find out who you are and what you're made of. How we perform over these next six races will define our season.
"When I get discouraged about things that happen at the track, I try to keep everything in perspective. Fans tell me all the time about struggles they are going through, from dealing with cancer to supporting a loved one who is serving overseas in our military. You name it. We all have struggles," he said, "and it is those things that matter most. We do have a job to do, though, and that's what we'll focus on at the track."
The prominent Northeast Ford multi-store dealer also is a myth-buster.
"It's playoffs time and we're spoilers. Let me tell you two things about being in our shoes: No. 1, I'd be lying if I said we aren't disappointed; and No. 2, people say the pressure is off for the rest of the season if you don't make the Countdown. That isn't true," he said.
"Our goal is to finish strong. It would mean everything to our team to end on a high note.
There is no such thing in motorsports as a time when the pressure is off. We are always under pressure to perform," Tasca said. "This ain't driving to church Sunday morning. This is the real deal. There are real consequences. That's where we live, under pressure, and if you can't perform under pressure, you can't perform."
And that's unacceptable to Tasca.
"The only reason why I'm racing is to compete for a championship," he said. "To not be able to do that is gut-wrenching, but you can take that energy and turn it into negativity or you can take that and be positive. I'm excited.
"The day I'm not excited about going to a race, I won't do it. I'm excited about playing spoiler," Tasca said. "We'll go out and make as much noise as we can and learn as much as we can to put ourselves in position to win. This is the time we'll see what my Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has, what I have. This is when we say, 'Here's what we can do.' "
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